Brenda Harding started selling coffee out of desperation to find a good local supplier.
Having given up working in London when her son was a baby and needing to find an alternative to driving up to Covent Garden to buy her favourite coffee she hit upon the idea of selling coffee.
She had just returned from taking her children to Zurich to visit a friend and was impressed with a tiny coffee shop in the Bhanoffstrasse where you could just drop in for a quick espresso before any such coffee shops existed in England. However, she soon realised that she could not make a profit selling coffee in Newbury as the shop rents were so high. She then read an article by Egon Ronay who complained that the standard of coffee in restaurants was appalling and he could only recommend one restaurant for a good cup of coffee after a meal. That was ‘Tante Claire’ and it gave her the idea to sell coffee to restaurants.
So Brenda rang Tante Claire and asked them where they bought their coffee from, then rang their supplier to see if they would supply her if she could find customers in the Newbury area.
By chance L’Ortolan at Shinfield was about to open, so she called in on them and found them desperate to find some good coffee as they were due to open in two days and had not found a suitable supplier. She raced up to London (with her young child in the back of her car) obtained some samples and took them to L’Ortolan. They loved the coffee and her business started from there. Her experience gave her the confidence to call on more high class restaurants and soon she had an impressive list of customers.
That was nearly 30 years ago but then the market changed, maitre d’s changed and it was time for Brenda to move into the private market. She still sells the same Pure Colombian coffee from her small supplier who roasts the coffee just as she asks them to. The only difference now is that whereas she used to sell several types of coffee, she now concentrates on the most popular and has also been able to add a very drinkable decaffeinated, which she gets them to high roast for her.
Brenda looks forward to meeting you at February’s market. Please give her a warm Silchester hello!